In a press release issued Wednesday, Electronic Arts announced plans for a new Ultima Online expansion. The as yet unnamed expansion is set in an Asian-themed world and is currently scheduled for a Fall 2004 release. The press release is available by clicking here.
On a sadder note, EA also issued an announcement that the Austin, Texas studio will close down by the end of April. Rumors of the close had been circulating on Wing Commander and Ultima fansites for some time, but this release makes it official. This studio was the home of Origin Systems, Richard Garriott's company that created the Ultima franchise. It was also the home of Ultima Online. The UO team is being relocated to EA's Redwood City, California facilities. This move should not effect the existing game or the development of the new expansion.
The shut down of the Austin facility closes the final chapter on Origin Systems, an event which should give any veteran gamer pause. Follow this link to read the press release regarding the relocation.